Saturday, June 09, 2012
I’m going to comment on this post.
Where is the Outcry from Theists Against the BSA's Policy of Discrimination against Nontheists?
I find it fascinating (and disturbing) that not one theist has responded to this post with a comment expressing disapproval of the BSA's policy.
i) If I’m interpreting the site meter correctly, The Secular Outpost doesn’t have a very high public profile. Just compare its stats to, let us say, The Volokh Conspiracy. Therefore, there’s no reason for Jeff to assume that most theists are even aware of his post.
ii) And even if they were, atheists don’t generally defend the civil liberties of theists–except for Muslims. Indeed, atheists often have policies that discriminate against theists. Therefore, why should Jeff expect theists to defend the civil liberties of atheists–if atheists are going to turn around and use their civil liberties to violate the civil liberties of theists? If you’re tolerant of those who are intolerant of you, they will win and you will lose. So the relationship is ultimately asymmetrical.
Not only is that a stupid reason, it would also be bigotry. Red heads would rightfully be offended and non-red heads would condemn that sort of bigotry.
i) Assuming (arguendo) that the BSA is bigoted, so what? Why is Jeff bothered by hypocrisy or bigotry? Is Jeff a moral realist?
I recall Jeff reviewing Michael Martin’s case for secular ethics. As I recall, Jeff thought Martin’s case was a failure. Does Jeff have a fallback argument for objective moral norms?
ii) Likewise, even assuming that some things are intrinsically right or wrong, why assume human beings can be wronged. We’re just animals. Why is it wrong for a primate to be a bigot? Why is it wrong for one primate to discriminate against another primate? Happens all the time in the wild.
iii) Jeff is also assuming that his analogy is relevantly analogous. But hair-color is hardly equivalent to ideology.
With that position statement in your head, I want you to now think about what defenders of moral arguments for God's existence typically say. They argue that, on the one hand, there is no ontological foundation for objective moral values if God does not exist, while, on the other hand, nontheists can lead moral lives. If they truly believe that nontheists can lead moral lives, then where is the outcry from these same apologists against the BSA's stated reason for discriminating against nontheists?
i) Even assuming (ex hypothesi) that the BSA policy is inconsistent, why assume that’s “bigotry”? Why think leaders of the BSA are that philosophically astute?
ii) More to the point, the fact that atheists can be moral doesn’t mean atheists will be moral. That’s not a prediction. It doesn’t create any presumption to that effect.
iii) Atheists are more likely to be moral in a culture that reinforces conventional Christian morality. To the extent that atheists are self-consciously atheistic, to the extent that atheists successfully secularize the culture, then to that extent they are less likely to be moral. They lack the same external or internal restraints. On the one hand, the traditional social sanctions are gone. On the other hand, they are taking their secular outlook to its logical conclusion.
Of course, Jeff might disagree with my definition of what makes someone moral, but that's beside the point inasmuch as he's attempting to attack the opposing position internally, on its own terms.
iv) Finally, one way atheists secularize the culture is to infiltrate institutions which were traditionally religious or religiously-conditioned, then secularize those institutions from within.
That way there’s nothing to push back against the atheist agenda. Indeed, they’ve dragooned the opposing institutions to further the secular agenda. Infiltrate, sterilize, then co-opt for your own purposes.
But what if someone says, "I don't care what some Christian apologists have written. I don't think nontheists are moral. I don't trust them." From that perspective, there is even more reason to allow nontheists to join the BSA. If nontheists are so 'morally defective,' then what better course of action than to allow them to join an organization which, other than its policy of discrimination against homosexuals and nontheists, promotes good moral values? If nontheists are morally handicapped, why not give them as much "moral support" as possible to ensure they turn into adults with the best kind of moral character?
i) To begin with, this fails to distinguish between scouts and leaders. Atheists won’t stop with scouts. They will insist that atheists assume leadership positions in the organization. A hostile takeover.
ii) In addition, the BSA won’t be allowed to indoctrinate members. That will be classified as “hate speech.”
Can you imagine a church or Sunday school group banning non-Christians or even just non-theists? Of course not! They welcome them. They view it as an opportunity for evangelism. By the same logic, then, why not view the BSA as an opportunity for moral evangelism, i.e., trying to get boys to develop the best kind of moral character?
That fails to distinguish between attendance and membership. To join an evangelical church, you’re generally required to make profession of faith. And the standards are higher for church officers.
Friday, June 08, 2012
I'm not going to evaluate his arguments, such as they are. Rather, I'm curious to see if he will be subjected to church discipline. Will his priest or bishop take appropriate action? If not, then it doesn't matter what the traditional position of Eastern Orthodoxy regarding marriage happens to be on paper.
Consider these neo-2kers. They're an odd bunch, I say. Well, at least most of them. At least the most prolific and bloggerific of them. Check it out:
I'm no theonomist, but theonomists are treated like dirt by these guys. They're told they "deny the gospel." They're blamed for almost all that ails Reformedom. They're mocked and ridiculed. Theonomic pastors are called "Rabi." They're called inconsistent Pelagians for their law/gospel confusion.
Similarly with "transformationalists" and "neo-Calvinists" and "worldviewers." If you read neo-2Kers and didn't know anything about those groups, you get the impression that they're silly, confused, stupid, and perhaps wicked. Guys like Darryl Hart, the above blogger, Zrim, etc., have some very strong and harsh things to say to them. They mock and ridicule them to no end. They clearly and obviously caricature them. For example, if you say you're a Van Tillian or believe in a Christian worldview, here's something you might hear: "But you believe regeneration raises the I.Q.." (actual quote by Darryl Hart).
Also, transformers and worldviewers and presuppers are all told that they value philosophy over humble submission to the Bible. That they think they can bring heaven down to earth. That they think the Bible is a manual for things like plumbing, and so they seek to impose it on all areas of life in a blueprint fashion. So motives can be guessed at, even when they've been clearly, forcefully, and ubiquitously denied. But Carl Trueman makes some comments about probable motives for Stellman, or probable causal precursors, and what happens? He's condemned and scolded by neo-2Kers. "How dare he speculate!" "How dare he talk about motives when he's not inside Stellman's head." The hypocrisy is stunning. How do we make sense of it?
And, heck, you'd better hope you're not named "John Frame." You'll be called a "relativist" for promulgating "triperspectivalism." Worse, you'd be told that your views are "revolutionary," but not in a good way; rather, "revolutionary in the way the French were revolutionary in 1789" (direct quote from R.S. Clark). This is all rather light compared to some of the choice comments neo-2Kers have for Frame.
But, repeatedly, Jason Stellman is treated with respect and dignity. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that, of course. But consider: Stellman is coddled and protected by neo-2Kers. Any comment taken to be disrespectful is met with strong force and condemnation. Indeed, some 2kers are saying that they're trying to defend Stellman (Zrim). If someone speculates or offers reasons for possible motives for Stellman's change, they're roundly rebuked. Told they're out of line. Told to show some "respect" and act with "comportment." We need to "pray for Stellman" and "love" Stellman. Have similar remarks been made by them about Frame?
Why (and why not)? You see, Stellman was an elder in a Reformed church, and most importantly, he defended Confessionalism and 2K—acts which cover a multitude of sins, apparently—so the 2kers rail and bellyache that he's not getting treated with dignity and respect. He's called "honorable" and "courageous." He's treated as a hero with integrity. Fine. But consider Frame again. Frame is an ordained elder, but that doesn't get him any respect, it gets him the opposite. Frame writes a book critical of neo-2K/Confessionalism, and prominent 2kers write that they are "shocked" and "saddened" by it. It "represents a new low in intra-Reformed polemics." But when one of their own denies SS and SF, they defend and protect him, laud him and glad hand him. He is "thoughtful" and "engaging," even when "we disagree."
Some people started off their response to Stellman by saying they were "shocked" and "saddened" by his recent stance, and Stellman declaimed, "Is that how you start off all your conversations? You don't want a dialogue." Many 2Kers cheered this response and jeered the Reformed commenter who began his comment that way. But consider how they speak to 1Kers, transformationalists, theonomists, etc.
Or, consider how they talk to and about baptists. Or The Gospel Coalition. They write posts with titles like, "Young, Restless, and Dunked." But what if someone wrote a post with the title, "Beautiful, Bald, and Searching for a Funny Hat to Cover it Up." They'd be called "uncivil." Why? Because it appears that the worst thing to be is some kind of 1Ker, or transformer, or worldviewer, or homeschooler, or Framean, or Bahnsenian. What else explains the blatant, obvious, and undeniable hypocrisy? How can they explain this clearly inconsistent behavior?
Who will guard the guardians? Ten years after the Catholic hierarchy of the United States gathered in Dallas and adopted unprecedented policies to address the scourge of child sexual abuse by clergy, the question of accountability at the top remains unanswered.
To be sure, the Charter ... took some critical steps...
But throughout it all, the bishops exempted themselves from accountability—even though records showed that feckless inaction by many bishops, or even deliberate malfeasance by some, had allowed abusers to claim so many victims.
The best answer the bishops had to this in Dallas was a behind-the-scenes "fraternal correction" policy, by which a bishop would quietly pass along any concerns about another bishop to that bishop. Church tradition was invoked to preclude any external oversight by laypeople or other prelates. As always, each bishop would answer only to the pope, who alone had the authority to remove the head of a diocese.
Now, as the bishops gather next week in Atlanta for their annual spring meeting, they will hear an update on the Dallas charter but are unlikely to address this enormous loophole—despite events that make it all the more urgent.
Consider that bishops in the Diocese of Baker in Oregon and the Diocese of Lincoln in Nebraska—plus leaders of the six Eastern rite dioceses in the U.S.—have for a decade thumbed their noses at the Dallas charter's mandatory audits of compliance. Thus monitors from the Conference of Catholic Bishops have never been allowed into those dioceses. Yet the recalcitrant bishops have never been rebuked, and last year Pope Benedict even promoted one of them, Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker, to the larger see of Santa Rosa, in California...
[More examples of how this agreement among the Bishops is skirted]
"In the Dallas Charter, all consequences fall on priests," said a priest in a recent survey of clergy attitudes by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. "Nothing is in there for bishops."
Not only does this undermine the priesthood's morale, but it impedes important work of the bishops, who are engaged in a major campaign for religious freedom—aiming not only to overturn the Obama administration's contraception mandate but to protect the church from secular encroachments of various sorts. If church leaders want the laity and the clergy to follow them to the ramparts on these issues, they should demonstrate that they will hold themselves to the same standards they set for everyone else.
Keith Parsons said...
You say that you can be respectful of the person while having no respect for a belief. I think that this is the only thing you have ever said that in ANY way reminds me of something said by Jerry Falwell. The late, not-so-great Rev. Falwell used to deny the charge of homophobia. Concerning gay people he would say (MOCKERY ALERT)"We do not hate the home-o-sexual. We luuuv the home-o-sexual. It is his si-yin we hate-uh."
May 31, 2012 2:26:00 PM CDT
Rev. Falwell's problem was simple: Despite his nauseatingly unctuous reassurances, he clearly hated gay people. His offense was simple hypocrisy.
June 4, 2012 4:04:00 PM CDT
Keith Parsons said...
A further issue I have always had with Christianity is the one you express as follows:
"Christians are enjoined by their faith to love others, and I take it that means that regardless of how badly a person has gone wrong, we think that, by the grace of God, that they could someday be brought to disconnect themselves from their sin by repentance."
Taken literally, this means that Christians are enjoined to love, say, people who throw acid into the faces of little girls to keep them from going to school. Indeed, Christians are enjoined to love tyrants, serial killers, traffickers in sexual slavery, drug cartel thugs, terrorists, fanatics, con men who cheat the elderly out of their life savings, etc.
This is one of the many cases where Christianity, by setting up an impossible (and undesirable) ideal creates conditions that guarantee self-deception and hypocrisy. CAN you love someone like, say, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad? SHOULD you even if you could? I think the answer to both questions is "no."
I submit that a person with any sense of decency who is well informed about the actions of Assad--shelling towns, sending death squads to massacre unarmed civilians, etc.--cannot love such an individual, not even "by the grace of God." If such a person claims to do so, I think that he is fooling himself or attempting to fool the rest of us.
Should you love Assad, even if you can? Why? Because of the off chance that he might someday repent? Get real. I submit that the proper, the MORAL attitude to take towards Assad and his vile ilk is one of outraged contempt.
June 7, 2012 10:58:00 AM CDT
Thursday, June 07, 2012
I do not understand the public attention Stellman is getting. The Church is so much larger than one man, whatever his status. Is there really nothing else for us to discuss or analyze? Are we really this provincial? Maybe I just do not spend enough time in the Reformed blogosphere, but of what import is this man, his "conversion" or whatever it is he represents?
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
First hour: http://www.belling.com/cc-common/podcast/single_page.html?podcast=MarkBelling&selected_podcast=belling_6-6-12_5_1339022867_16318.mp3
Second hour: http://www.belling.com/cc-common/podcast/single_page.html?podcast=MarkBelling&selected_podcast=belling_6-6-12_4_1339021807_16080.mp3
Third hour: http://www.belling.com/cc-common/podcast/single_page.html?podcast=MarkBelling&selected_podcast=belling_6-6-12_6_1339024875_10169.mp3
Bradbury died Tuesday night in Los Angeles, his agent Michael Congdon confirmed.
Bradbury’s daughter confirmed his death to the Associated Press on Wednesday morning. She said her father died Tuesday night in Southern California.
Legendary science-fiction author Ray Bradbury passed away Wednesday morning in Los Angeles.
CANON IX.-If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.CANON X.-If any one saith, that men are just without the justice of Christ, whereby He merited for us to be justified; or that it is by that justice itself that they are formally just; let him be anathema.CANON XI.-If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema.CANON XII.-If any one saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema.
* * *
Of course, Jason, how you frame the questions determines the answers you will receive, as Steve Hays has demonstrated in these posts with the theme of “trick questions”. Choosing to frame your questions in terms of “who is the authority” instead of “what’s true”, you walked yourself right into an “answer” that was more of your own making than anything else.
Do you agree that “how you frame the questions” in large part determines the answers you will get? And that it was you, of your own volition, who asked questions in such a manner that the response was not really going to be in question?
Look at your phrase ”Protestantism seemed no more true ...”
Your working definition here is based on a mischaracterization. Protestantism does not claim to be “true”. “Protestantism” does not claim to speak with one voice. So you are already not being honest with the facts. You are already asking questions in a way that you can justify the responses to yourself.
At the time of the Reformation, “Protestantism” was a gathering of people who found themselves in a position of needing to respond to an ecclesiastical situation that was horrific, overbearing, and unbearable. “Protestantism” didn't claim to be true. “Protestantism” is simply the collective term for the collective outcry of those people who were (a) looking at the existing system and judging it as no longer tenable, and (b) re-articulating the Gospel message from the New Testament.
Ask yourself, “was the Protestant response a proper response given the circumstances?” If not a proper response, then was it a “good” or “well-motivated” or even “understandable under the circumstances”? That's the right way to look at this.
I'm sure it was all of those things. It was good, it was well-motivated, it was understandable under the circumstances. Then ask, how would you characterize Rome's response?
The reason I ask this is because it is clear that “apostolic succession” and the episcopal monarchy were second century “developments”, articulated as an apologetic response to the Gnostic religions that were popping up. Even Joseph Ratzinger admitted this some time ago. With that thought in mind, ask, “was Rome's response to the challenge from truth-seeking Protestants an appropriate one?” I'm sure you've read the council of Trent. Did they reason about the truth? Or did they simply assert their authority? But then, your questions are asked in a way that they are seeking not “truth”, but “authority”.
But do you want to make your decision that an authority structure that was developed and proclaimed in the second century is something that Christ intended “for all time”? I'm not. It was the Reformers who were seeking honesty. It was Rome which was trying to defend its own authority. I'll go with honesty every time.
Don't ask yourself “is Protestantism true”? That's a false question. Ask yourself, “is Roman Catholicism really what it says it is”? Yes or no? Is it “the Church that Christ founded”? Or is it an evolution off of the New Testament church that Christ founded?
Was the bitterly corrupt papal/episcopal church government of the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries the thing, or the type of thing, that the Christ you know would say he would always protect? Or rather, was the Protestant response, the re-articulation of the Gospel, itself a sign that the “gates of hell” would not prevail? I'm betting my life, the lives of my family, the eternal life of all of us, on the latter, in the face of Rome’s authority-asserting anathemas.
You and the scoffers who think I'm “mean” won't believe this, but I am, and have been, praying for you too. But doesn't it seem boastful even to say that? “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
So I don't often say “nice” stuff like “I'm praying for you”. I would rather say true and honest things dealing with factual events.
How many people here have trumpeted that they are praying for you? Where's the outcry about that kind of, in the words of Jesus, “hypocrisy”.
One more thing. I have not called you “a liar”. I made the statement “I saw all this coming three years ago”, and I asked the question, “Have you been wringing your hands this whole time?” For this I am called a jerk by an unknown commenter.
Where is everyone's sense of proportion? Who has got the tone problem?